Google eases up on Play Store billing requirement, wants to let you choose

Google Play Store home page on Android and Chrome OS
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google considers letting developers include their own billing system alongside Play Store billing.
  • Google has partnered with Spotify to build a solution in the app that will present users with either billing option.
  • The move comes after South Korea ruled that app stores are required to offer alternative billing options in the country.

App store billing has been a big topic lately, particularly as it pertains to Google and Apple's high fees for developers and required use of the app store's billing system. However, Google is now testing a way to give Android users a choice over which billing system they use in their apps, and the company has partnered with Spotify to pilot the experience.

The company announced the new initiative in a blog post on Wednesday, resulting from South Korea's recent law requiring app stores to offer alternate billing options. Google says that it is now hoping to extend this to more countries over time.

"This pilot will allow a small number of participating developers to offer an additional billing option next to Google Play's billing system and is designed to help us explore ways to offer this choice to users, while maintaining our ability to invest in the ecosystem. This is a significant milestone and the first on any major app store — whether on mobile, desktop, or game consoles."

To kick things off, Google will be working with Spotify to "innovate in how consumers make in-app purchases." An accompanying announcement from Spotify explains that users that download the app from the Play Store will be presented with the option to choose Play Store billing or Spotify's own billing and that the options will "live side by side in the app." The two companies will build this solution over the coming months and expect that it will arrive on the best Android phones sometime later this year.

The move is definitely a welcome one, particularly for developers, since Google has been adamant about requiring the use of Play Store billing. The company touts "the highest standards for privacy and safety" when using the system, although developers have dealt with service fees as high as 30%. Google has introduced ways to bring that down to 15%, which "99% of developers qualify for," and Google tells Android Central that developers will still incur the service fee regardless of which billing system is used.

Meanwhile, Google nor Spotify specified where this choice billing option would arrive, using vague wording such as "select countries" and "countries around the world." We've reached out for more information and will report back as we learn more, but Google says to expect more details in the coming months as the process evolves.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.